Decade-long fight to stop traveller site plans in Stanley is lost

A decade-long fight to stop travellers pitches being built in Stanley has been lost, for now, after temporary planning permission was finally granted.

Hundreds of residents have been trying to halt the plans for the patch of land at Castle Gate - just yards from the M62 - since 2012, but after several rejections and appeals, the Planning Inspectorate has finally given it the go-ahead following a public inquiry.

Ward councillor for Stanley, Matthew Morley, expressed his concern with the decision.

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He said: "I'm disappointed that the Planning Inspectorate has not listened to the community.

The land is just yards from the M62.

"It's been an exhausting battle for those people.

"It's unfortunate how the planning system is set up, it works in the applicant's favour, it's never a 'no' so they can just keep going back."

The plans, spread across two applications, is for change of use for the land into six traveller pitches and six day-rooms and hardstanding. The second was for a change of use of land for the stationing of caravans for residential purposes for six gypsy pitches together with the formation of hardstanding and six utility/ day-rooms.

Plans were rejected by Wakefield Council in 2012 when the applicant wanted to put 10 traveller pitches on the site, which is directly opposite the entrance to Premier Way.

The two applications recently overturned by the Planning Inspectorate had more than 400 objections between them.

While traveller sites remains a divisive issue, the reasons for the residents' objections included the land being of green belt origin - meaning it is previously undeveloped and requires special circumstances for planning permission to be granted.

There have also been issues highlighted over the land's positioning next to the M62.

Coun Morley said: "We have argued this for years, it's the close proximity to the M62 - should families really be living there?

"What would it be like living there if you not even in bricks and mortar?

"Then there's the loss of green belt, and the families who are going to be living there are from the Leeds area so it won't even help ease the needs of the travelling community in Wakefield."

The Planning Inspectorate felt the plans would help meet a shortfall in supply of traveller sites.

He also said the loss of green belt land was an issue, but it was not outweighed by the support for the proposals, and that a temporary five-year could allow for a more permanent site to be found.